I sat quietly; a little disheartened by a conversation I had just had. The person I was talking to told me that she didn’t believe God really talks to her. In fact, she wasn’t sure that He talked to anyone really. I felt a sadness creep into my heart for her. How could she believe that God doesn’t talk to her? How could she miss His voice when there are times I hear it as clearly as I hear my sweet little ones’ voices as they call out, “Mama!”?
We know through reading the Bible that in the Old Testament times God spoke with His people both through His Spirit and His angels, but also with His very own voice as well. God spoke very clearly to Noah when He instructed him to build the ark. The Lord continued to call out to Samuel until he answered, “Speak, for Your servant is listening!” He asked Zechariah to listen to Him, to turn from his evil ways, and to return to Him. Throughout the Old Testament we hear God speaking over and over again to those He loves- Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, Jonas, Elijah, Isaiah, and so many others. Some listened intently to the Lord; others ran away so as not to have to hear what the Lord wanted of them.
God did not stop speaking to His people once Christ was born. In fact, we read in the New Testament that God spoke again through His Spirit, His angels, and with His own voice. “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” was heard at the moment of Jesus’ baptism. God spoke to Peter, James, and John during the transfiguration upon the mountain when He told them, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”
While we see that God was still speaking with those in the earliest Christian days, the question remains, does He still speak to us now? Pope John XXIII seemed to think so and said the following in 1959,
“The Roman Pontiffs… “also have the duty, when after mature examination, they deem necessary for the common good of bringing to the attention of the faithful those supernatural lights which it pleases God to dispense freely to certain privileged souls, not for the purpose of presenting new doctrines, but rather to guide us in our conduct.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church also states,
“Throughout the ages, there have been so-called “private” revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church.” (CCC, 67)
So if God is still speaking to us, why aren’t we hearing His voice?
There are many reasons we don’t hear God’s voice in our lives. Sometimes we are afraid to listen. We don’t want to hear what God has to say to us. We know that He may ask something of us that is difficult to do or give. Instead of listening we close our ears and pretend not to hear.
Sometimes we don’t hear God because we are too busy putting our own needs ahead of everything else. Our desires to have more, and to be more, are often in direct conflict with what God desires for us. It is difficult to hear His voice over own voices calling for more.
Many of us don’t feel like we are worthy of God’s time and love. We can’t see how or why He would want to talk to us. We are no one and someone so glorious, someone so kingly would never stoop to speak to someone in our lowly position.
Most often, though, we simply don’t recognize God’s voice over the roar of life around us. Our world is noisy and demands so much of our time and energy. We are so focused on everything else that we fail to hear God’s gentle whispers in our lives. Often we are so busy and so consumed with everything around us that we miss Him even when He is screaming our names, trying to get our attention.
What can we do to change this?
In order to hear God, even when He speaks to us in a whisper, we must be in constant communication with Him. We must learn to recognize His voice. Just like our children learn our voices very quickly by listening intently to us as babies, we too must listen and learn God’s voice. We must make baby steps. We must be willing to learn. Thankfully God is a patient and loving Father. He desires us to know His voice and so He is willing to teach us slowly if necessary.
Now that we are willing to listen, where will we hear God’s voice speaking to us? It may be in the quiet of a darkened room as we pray to Him, or it may be in other ways. He may send His Spirit to us or perhaps one of His angels. God uses the Bible to speak to us. His words are contained within, ready to guide us and inspire us. We can hear Him speak to us in our dreams, through His divine timing, prayer, quiet contemplation, nature, music, our children, the Mass, and through the people we encounter on a daily basis. He is constantly speaking to us. We just need to learn to hear His voice!
St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “Before you speak, it is necessary for you to listen, for God speaks in the silence of the heart.”
I pray we each will quiet our minds and open our hearts to hear God’s voice speaking to us. God wants us to hear Him. He longs to have meaningful conversations with us. We must decide to listen for His voice; if we don’t, we may miss the comfort, inspiration, and encouragement God bestows upon us when He speaks intimately with us.